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Survey Questions on Cultural Dimension of Politics
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Posted 12/6/2008 08:56 (#44)
Subject: Survey Questions on Cultural Dimension of Politics

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Posts: 2

Suggestion for Voter and Candidate Study

In order to improve the comparability between the EES Voter and Candidate Study to other existing voter and elite surveys (such National Election Surveys, or the Chapel Hill and Benoit/Laver Expert Survey), we would like to suggest the inclusion of a question(-s) tapping into the cultural dimension of political competition.


Many authors argue that political space in West and Eastern Europe consists of “one-plus” or two dimensions (Inglehart, 1997; Flanagan, 1987; Kitschelt, 1989; Hooghe, et al., 2002; Kriesi, et al, 2006, Marks, et al, 2006 to name a few). Different labels are used within the literature to capture the second dimension of political contestation, but what these authors have in common is their contention that a second cultural dimension exists next to the economic left/right dimension. This second dimension of political contestation involves the divide between values, such as public order, national security and traditional life styles, and values, such as individual choice, political participation and environmental protection (Dalton, 1996). Many existing voters and elite surveys include items that tap into this second dimension of political competition. Articles using these data sources show that a two-dimensional space solution outperforms a uni-dimensional understanding of political space (see references above). So, the second dimension of politics is a crucial piece of information when attempting to understand the behavior and attitudes of voters and elites alike.

Question wordings

In order to guarantee some degree of comparability with existing surveys, we suggest using question wordings similar those employed in several National Election Surveys. For example:

In politics, people sometimes talk about parties and politicians as being conservative or progressive. Using a scale from 0 to 10, where the end marked 0 means progressive and the end marked 10 means conservative, where would you place [PARTY X] [YOURSELF] on this scale?

An alternative approach is to ask respondents to place themselves and parties on one or two issues that tap into the cultural dimension of politics, such as immigration (or euthanasia/gay marriage). For example (note that these question formats draw on the 2005 British Election Survey):

Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with each of the following statements:

Immigrants take jobs away from people who were born in [COUNTRY].

1 Strongly agree
2 Agree
3 Neither agree nor disagree
4 Disagree
5 Strongly disagree

Immigrants make [COUNTRY] more open to new ideas and cultures.

1 Strongly agree
2 Agree
3 Neither agree nor disagree
4 Disagree
5 Strongly disagree

Catherine de Vries (Leiden University) & Marco Steenbergen (Bern University)

(also on behalf of the Chapel Hill Expert Survey Group)

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Posted 16/7/2008 17:14 (#108 - in reply to #44)
Subject: RE: Survey Questions on Cultural Dimension of Politics

Posts: 26
Location: University of Oxford, UK
Dear Catherine,

Thank you for submitting this proposal to the Open Forum. The PIREDEU Steering Committee met at the end of June to evaluate each of the proposals. We assessed them on the basis of whether they met the following criteria:

* An explicit argument about why the proposed question/coding category merited inclusion in one or more of the PIREDEU data components.

* An explicit argument about the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the question/coding category.

* An explicit case for how the question/coding category facilitates integration and linking of several data components. The PIREDEU Steering Committee preferred proposals that allowed for conceptual integration across the five data components (i.e. voter survey, candidate survey, media study, manifestos and contextual data).

* An explicit consideration of how the proposed question/coding category linked with questions/coding categories in past data collection efforts.

The PIREDEU Steering Committee favoured proposals that ensured over time and across instrument comparability. Moreover, given that the voter and candidate surveys can only contain a limited number of question items, priority was given to proposals with succinct question formats.

On this basis we ranked each question in the proposal as follows:

(1) The proposed item will be included in data collection instrument
(2) High priority proposal that will be included if space and time constraints permit
(3) Proposal can only be included if additional funding is secured
(4) Proposed item is not a priority

The item(s) from your proposal received the following ranking(s):

Instrument: Voter Survey

Cultural dimension questions (left-right, immigration, euthanasia, etc.)
Ranking: 1

Rationale: These items will be included in the voter survey. The voter survey team has established a working group to propose a set of questions.

Thank you again for your participation in this process. We hope that you will continue to use the Open Forum to comment on the questionnaires/codebook that will be posted online on the Forum in the autumn.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Franklin
Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee

Sara Hobolt
Deputy Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee

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